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Burning Godzilla
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Wonder Woman (2017) We finally have a DC superhero movie that knows enough to have fun with the genre! The origin from the comic book is changed up a bit, swapping out WWII for the Great War, but what changes they do make certainly work here. Gal Gadot is just great as Wonder Woman and her screen chemistry with Chris Pine's Steve Trevor is amazing. The only really failing the film has is once again comic book movies having a tough time giving us interesting villains, and this movie is not helped by the CGI showstopper that caps off the movie.

It’s almost a shame that we are going to have to suffer through a Justice League movie, an Aquaman movie, a Flash movie, and a dozen other DC properties before the thought of another solo Wonder Woman film is even possible. It’s taken over 75 years for Wonder Woman to finally star in her own theatrical movie, while Batman and Superman have had numerous forays to the big screen, and so it’s a crime that we may have to wait quite some time before getting another one, especially when you consider her film here is the best DC has managed to offer us so far.

You can read my full review here: Wonder Woman

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Fri Jun 02, 2017 2:18 pm
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Burning Godzilla
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If it is as big as I expect it will be, I can imagine Warner/DC pushing up the timetable for a sequel.

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Fri Jun 02, 2017 2:37 pm
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Movie Mike wrote:
...especially when you consider her film here is the best DC has managed to offer us so far.


I'd put this ahead of everything save Dark Knight.

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Fri Jun 02, 2017 10:32 pm
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Charnelhouse wrote:
Movie Mike wrote:
...especially when you consider her film here is the best DC has managed to offer us so far.


I'd put this ahead of everything save Dark Knight.

I was really only considering the ones that are part of this new DC Extended Universe but I do agree it does at least beat The Dark Knight Rises and I'd have to see it again before saying it beats Batman Begins.

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Sat Jun 03, 2017 4:17 am
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My thoughts on WONDER WOMAN...

Though far from perfect, Wonder Woman offers renewed hope for audiences in two major ways. First, it represents the first successful female-led superhero and/or comic book movie. Past attempts such as 1984's Supergirl, Tank Girl, Barb Wire, Elektra (the Daredevil spin off with Jennifer Garner) and especially 2004's infamous Catwoman with Halle Berry all fell flat, and gave Hollywood the impression that people just did not want to a superheroine movie. Of course, this could not be further from the truth. The reality was all of these movies were terrible in one way or another. But, when you're Hollywood, you blame the talent, rather than the bad corporate decisions made behind the scenes. What does it tell you that this is the first female-led comic book movie in over 10 years, and that the current king of the genre, Marvel, has yet to release one starring a woman? (Though they do have a Captain Marvel movie starring Brie Larson in the works, which is two years away.)

The other way in which Wonder Woman offers hope is for the struggling D.C. Cinematic Universe, which up to now has largely been a huge let down. I know that films like Man of Steel, Batman v. Superman and Suicide Squad have their defenders, but even if you have enjoyed them, you can't deny the central problem that has plagued almost all of them, which is that they have been trying to induct audiences into their Cinematic Universe far too quickly, and with far too diminishing results. Last year's heavily hyped Batman v. Superman film (where Wonder Woman made her first on-screen appearance) often felt like it was trying to cram too much into one movie, and seemed to exist solely to set us up for future movies to come, rather than give us a satisfying narrative and a proper meet up between two of the comic book world's biggest titans. And the less said about last summer's chaotic, messy and downright indecipherable Suicide Squad, the better. These were movies that were made solely for fans, and seemed to exist to give them as many references and cameos as could be squeezed in, while forgetting to give them a memorable film experience in the process.

What director Patty Jenkins (2003's Monster) and screenwriter Allan Heinberg (who has written for the Wonder Woman comic book in the past) have done is given us a movie about the heroic Amazon Princess that not only allows us to get behind the character, but to also understand her and her world. Rather than try to throw in everything but the metaphorical kitchen sink into one movie, this is just as the title suggests - a movie about Wonder Woman. That's how it should be. There's a reference to Bruce Wayne in the film's opening scene (Ben Affleck does not appear.), but outside of that, the movie is laser focused on its subject, and explores its heroine's background, her beliefs, and what she stands for. It's also beautifully shot, has some exciting action sequences (which are somewhat marred by the film's decision to use excessive slow motion techniques), and quite a few quiet moments that allow us to like these characters. Most of all, you don't have to be in the know with the comics in order to enjoy it. It has its flaws, but for the most part, this is light summer entertainment filmmaking at its best.

Full review over on Reel Opinions.

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Sat Jun 03, 2017 1:07 pm
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Wonder Woman - I enjoyed it a lot. I'm willing to go so far to say its one of the best superhero movies, even when embracing some conventions of the typical rom-com (they even have the cliche of the try-on different clothes to the critical appraisal of her friends, until she comes up with something suitably conservative and stylish.) The director, cinematographer, and production designer got it right for once. Even in its most colorless scenes in WW1 era London, there was a refreshing lack of shadows and grit. It was vivid and colorful. More than once, the production actually managed to convey a marvelous sense of awe at its superhero. Someone at Warner Brothers finally bothered to read the memo that superheroes are supposed to be superheroic: self-sacrificing and throwing themselves into the battle to defend the vulnerable. Even as I reflect on the scene in which Gal Gadot emerges from the trench to face down the enemy, I get chills. I haven't experienced that in a superhero movie since Captain America told Hulk to smash. (Of course, that scene is also a perfect example of what Man of Steel should have been and failed to be.)
Perhaps the most telling, and affecting, scene in the movie is where Diana observes healthy young soldiers preparing to go fight walking past scores of horribly scarred and wounded veterans. And yet, despite this and other heartrending scenes, there was so much optimism in this as compared to other DC properties. I pray it continues to have incredible box office success. Were I to have my wish, it's commercial performance should dwarf that of Batman V Superman, at least, because it needs to repudiate the thinking about how DC is using its properties at the big screen.
There was so much to love, from the computer renderings of Themyscira to the lovely scene in the small non-descript European town, the characterization of Etta Candy as a proper British matron, the gorgeous costumes (Pine gets this fedora and tailored wool suit that's as gorgeous as any of the costumes assigned to Gadot), and finally, the classic movie chemistry between Gal Gadot and Chris Pine. And not just the romantic relationship. I loved her expressions of dismay at the pomposity of the generals and, when she reads the riot act to Steve Trevor, it's for giving in and not displaying a spine. He doesn't condescend. Its a relationship based on mutual respect and that relationship moved the story more effectively than the actual plot which, typically these days, featured some underwhelming villains. Too bad, as Dr. Poison seemed capable of being wonderfully diabolical, but her character was terribly, terribly underwritten.
It was an extra special treat for me as a spectator that I was seated next to a girl of about 8 or 9 years-old who was seated cross-legged and rocked back and forth in anticipation of the Wonder Woman movie. Hearing her get excited about different scenes in the movie and commenting on it to her father was equally as entertaining to me as the movie itself. (I dislike being prudish, but considering the age range of the audience, the near full frontal nudity on Chris Pine's part was probably unnecessary even if the actor is eye candy with CGI-boosted blue eyes. The scene was cute and, thankfully, short-lived. But the girl's father - and I, for that matter - were both very uncomfortable and the little girl was clearly bothered as well.)

Goats - So this young boy lives with his flaky new age mother, Vera Farmiga (The Conjuring), and her resident pool cleaner, The Goat Man (David Duchovny Californication), a heavily bearded stoner who pursues an alternative lifestyle by going on extended journeys into the desert with his goats before returning to clean the pools and live in his small shack. The Goat Man is basically the only father the young boy has. Earlier in his life, his mother divorced his father because he was way too conservative, a button down collar type who didn't go in for primal scream therapy and Transcendental Meditation. Well, the boy decides to enroll in an all boy private school in New England - the same as his father. (Having attended an all-boy college prep school that required coats and ties, I can tell you for certain that the school depicted on screen has nothing whatsoever to do with reality). The movie meanders between upheavals in all his relationships with the adults in his life until, finally, some resolution is achieved. Just as cloying and plodding as my description of it. Too bad, as it might have been interesting had there been just one thread. It shoots for Wes Anderson-style quirkiness and winds up soap opera. Could have been worse, but could also have been way better.

Dr. Strange - Mind bending visuals and excellent incorporation of them into the fight choreography. Terrific central performances from Benedict Cumberbatch and Tilda Swinton, and yet its all just thumb twiddling prelude. The most interesting moment in the movie - in which Dr. Strange the magnificent physician/scientist, laughingly rejects the notion of multiple universes and intangible spiritual beliefs, only to have those certainties shaken to the core. The moment, unfortunately, doesn't last. He merely passes into acceptance and apologizes for being wrong. Beyond that, there is only one other important development and that came after the movie was over and we discover that another damn glowing stone is identified as an infinity stone. The build up to this Avengers "Thanos" movie has gone from interesting to tedious to get the dang thing over with now, please! It's interesting to contrast this with Wonder Woman. Both are origin stories that, presumably, exist to be part of a larger cross-over universe. But Dr. Strange doesn't come off as trying to be anything more than a place filler for the next movie in the Marvel Universe. Wonder Woman, on the other hand, stands well on its own apart from the DC Universe to come. And I'm far more interested in that universe than in cross-over-palooza.

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Mon Jun 05, 2017 2:53 pm
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The Stewardesses (1969) This was the beginning of the new boom in 3D as it utilized a much cheaper single-strip format and thus low budget films like this one, costing a measly $100,000 dollars, could be made and go onto gross $27 million. The movie as a whole is pretty terrible, dealing with the "Coffee, tea or me?" approach to air travel as it follows the sexual shenanigans of a group of Stewardesses as they spend their free time in the City of the Angels. The film is full of soft-core sex, obvious amounts of nudity, and a bloody dark storyline involving a man dealing with his past homosexual rape by taking it out on women. Not something one would expect to see in what is basically a sex-comedy. The 3D is really well done and as bad as the sex scenes get they are kind of fun in a kitschy way. Recommended to the curious only.

You can read my full NOT SAFE FOR WORK review here: The Stewardesses

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Tue Jun 06, 2017 10:27 pm
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Carry On Screaming! (1966)

Broad spoof of Hammer horror films. Given that this is a Carry On film, it's no surprise that there's lowbrow comedy, mild bawdiness, and puns. More surprising is the fact that the production values are excellent, with costumes and sets and props that are lovely to look at. (The setting is the very early 20th century, and there are some authentic automobiles of the time which are a joy.)

Women are disappearing and the clues lead our bumbling police heroes Sergeant Bung and Detective Slobotham to the Bide-A-Wee Rest Home, where the dead-but-very-active mad scientist Doctor Watt (yes, this leads to a "Doctor Watt." "Doctor Who?" "No, Watt!" scene) and his seductive sister Valeria (Fenella Fielding stealing the picture in the Vampira/Morticia/Elvira role) use their revived creature Oddbod to abduct the ladies and transform them, House of Wax style, into mannequins to sell to milliners. (The mannequins are extremely well done; they look exactly like the actresses, but are clearly actual mannequins and not the actresses pretending to be mannequins.) In a scene straight out of The Creeping Flesh, Oddbod loses a finger and electricity creates a whole new monster, Oddbod Junior. There's also a Lurch-style butler and a Jekyll-and-Hyde formula which leads to the monster vs monster climax. The shouting matches between Bung and his shrewish wife are unfunny, and the movie isn't above using a man in drag for laughs (but it's very nicely done drag) but it's all good fun for fans of old monster movies.

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Wed Jun 07, 2017 1:18 am
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THE MUMMY (2017) - The new reboot of The Mummy is credited to three different screenwriters, but it has the distinct feeling of a film that had one too many hands involved in the making of it. This is filmmaking by committee, a corporate product that tries to cover all bases, yet succeeds at none of them. The tone is completely off, with middling thrills mixed with out of place slapstick humor that seems to be trying to mimic the earlier Mummy franchise with Brendan Fraser, only without success.

The film is intended to kick off a Cinematic Universe built around the Universal Horror Monsters of old. However, those of you with very good memories will likely remember that there was an earlier attempt to do just that. That would be 2014's Dracula Untold, which was supposed to kick off the franchise. But, since that movie soundly bombed with critics and audiences, The Mummy now gets to be labeled the inaugural film. On the surface, this appears to be a smart move, as this film features big name talent like Tom Cruise and Russell Crowe, as well as a lot of expensive looking set pieces and exotic locales. But look just below the surface, and you will see a movie that's trying too hard to please, yet at the same time holds no identity. It borrows from numerous past films, and comes across as a careless mix of ideas that were probably contributed by a combination of writers and studio heads that only cared about making a product that can set up future films, and not a successful standalone movie.

But the core problem here is that the movie is not so much about the titular Mummy, as it is about Tom Cruise, who is woefully miscast as a charming rogue and adventurer. Cruise's Nick Morton is supposed to be a con artist and treasure hunter, who is willing to seduce, steal and bribe his way to fortune. And yet, the entire time, we never forget that we are simply watching Tom Cruise. He never inhabits any sort of character. He's just up there on the screen to flash a smile, say a one-liner, or do battle with the CG Undead. For any Cinematic Universe to succeed, we need to be involved with the characters who inhabit it, and want to see them show up in other films. Same goes for Russell Crowe, who turns up as Dr. Henry Jekyll. Yes, *that* Henry Jekyll, complete with Mr. Hyde. He has a supporting role here, but he's obviously being set up for his own movie in the future. Again, given how little impact both the character and Crowe's performance makes, we could care less about seeing his further appearances that the studio has planned.

Universal has had a very hard time with this whole Monster Reboot, which they've been trying to make a thing ever since 2004's disastrous Van Helsing with Hugh Jackman. Judging by The Mummy, they still haven't figured it out, and maybe should just stop trying.

Full review on Reel Opinions.

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Fri Jun 09, 2017 11:55 pm
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The Mummy (2017) This film really had a television pilot feel to it and Russell Crowe was basically playing Giles from Buffy the Vampire Slayer. It wasn't as bad as some people say but it seems that Universal is really forcing the whole "Shared Universe" thing a little too hard. Cruise was fine but not given a hell of a lot to but stand around while people explain things to him. I did like Sofia Boutella as the Mummy and if the film had spent more time with her and less with "world building" we may have got a really good film instead of this rather mediocre one.

You can read my full review here: The Mummy

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Sat Jun 10, 2017 12:12 am
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keiichi wrote:
Cruise's Nick Morton is supposed to be a con artist and treasure hunter, who is willing to seduce, steal and bribe his way to fortune. And yet, the entire time, we never forget that we are simply watching Tom Cruise. He never inhabits any sort of character. He's just up there on the screen to flash a smile, say a one-liner, or do battle with the CG Undead.


So the usual Tom Cruise performance, then. How did this guy ever get a career?

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Sat Jun 10, 2017 1:36 am
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Mr. Paradox wrote:
keiichi wrote:
Cruise's Nick Morton is supposed to be a con artist and treasure hunter, who is willing to seduce, steal and bribe his way to fortune. And yet, the entire time, we never forget that we are simply watching Tom Cruise. He never inhabits any sort of character. He's just up there on the screen to flash a smile, say a one-liner, or do battle with the CG Undead.


So the usual Tom Cruise performance, then. How did this guy ever get a career?


I personally think Cruise can be very good. I particularly enjoyed him in Magnolia, and his comic performance in Tropic Thunder.

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Sat Jun 10, 2017 11:12 am
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Burning Godzilla
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keiichi wrote:
Mr. Paradox wrote:
keiichi wrote:
Cruise's Nick Morton is supposed to be a con artist and treasure hunter, who is willing to seduce, steal and bribe his way to fortune. And yet, the entire time, we never forget that we are simply watching Tom Cruise. He never inhabits any sort of character. He's just up there on the screen to flash a smile, say a one-liner, or do battle with the CG Undead.


So the usual Tom Cruise performance, then. How did this guy ever get a career?


I personally think Cruise can be very good. I particularly enjoyed him in Magnolia, and his comic performance in Tropic Thunder.


Maybe it depends on the director, because my memories of Cruise in anything are three expressions: cocky a****** smile, "Uhhh?" face, and "sad" face.

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"Times have not become more violent. They have just become more televised." - Brian Warner

"Marlowe's overreacting, Marlowe's taking it wrong, Marlowe's lighting kittens on fire again..." - Marlowe, on how the rest of the board sees him

"What we have here is one hellaciously well-built monument." - Bergerjacques, on the Lincoln Memorial

"Folks, we need a way to get Uwe Boll to inadvertantly touch Tony Jaa's elephant." - Beggar So's Hat speaks truth


Sat Jun 10, 2017 11:15 am
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IT COMES AT NIGHT - With its ominous title, poster art and even the ad campaign, you would be forgiven for thinking that It Comes at Night is a horror film. And while it certainly does contain elements of a thriller with its claustrophobic settings of a boarded up house located in the middle of a mysterious forest where strange sounds can be heard off in the distance, this really is a devastatingly sad film about paranoia. I have a hunch that the mainstream summer audience isn't going to get behind this one very much, but if you're looking for something very dark and incredibly powerful, you really can't go wrong.

Writer-director Trey Edward Shults throws us into the middle of a post-apocalyptic world with little answers as to what is going on. From its opening scene, where three people donning gas masks take an elderly and obviously sick old man out into the woods to end his life, we can tell that the world is in ruin, and obviously at the mercy of some kind of plague. We never learn the full effects or what the disease even is, but the people inhabiting a boarded up home in the middle of the woods are obviously doing whatever they can to keep it out.

It Comes at Night is certainly not your conventional thriller, although it does fall back on a few classic tricks, such as "jump scare" nightmare sequences and plot misdirection. Fortunately, it's doesn't try to throw us off too much, and is really just a simple, straight forward and slowly burning story about survival, and what happens when trust between people begins to break down. It's the kind of movie where tension can be created just by the empty and quiet forest landscape that surrounds the boarded up home the characters inhabit, creating a quiet but no less ominous sense of dread. Again, we have no hard evidence as to what is actually going on in the world, or what this disease is. Some may find this frustrating or unnecessarily vague, but I think the fact that we don't know the whole story adds to the tension.

It Comes at Night is so relentlessly grim, it could have seemed overwhelming. But the filmmakers know just how to handle such a dark story. It is powerful, well-acted, and above all a memorable and emotional experience. And while I question the studio's judgement to release it right in the middle of the big summer movie season, I am nonetheless glad it's here, as it severs as a powerful antidote to many of this summer's big budget disappointments thus far.

Full review at Reel Opinions.

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Sat Jun 10, 2017 8:04 pm
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keiichi wrote:
I have a hunch that the mainstream summer audience isn't going to get behind this one very much, but if you're looking for something very dark and incredibly powerful, you really can't go wrong.


Unfortunately the audience absolutely DESPISES this film. Cinemascore D, Rotten Tomatoes Audience score 44%. Terrible box office.

Meanwhile, The Mummy made a massive international haul - $141.8 million - to overcome a lackluster domestic performance. The guys over at Red Letter Media suggest this may have been the intent all along. Apparently there's a lot of flashbacks with voiceovers? - this creates the opportunity to dub different voiceover stuff for each international market.

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Sun Jun 11, 2017 8:49 pm
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